Wolverine

Wolverine

Skunk bear, Glutton, Carcajou, Quickhatch

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Gulo gulo
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
5-17 yrs
TOP SPEED
48 km/h
WEIGHT
9-25 kg
HEIGHT
30-45 cm
LENGTH
65-107 cm

The wolverine is the biggest member of the weasel family that lives on the land. They have characteristics of a dog a bear and, a skunk. They have long snouts, short legs, and long hair. They also have a distinguishing dark mask around their forehead and eyes, and a blond stripe fur running from the shoulders to the beginning of the tail.

Distibution

Wolverines prefer colder areas and inhabit the Arctic and subarctic, Alpine forests, grasslands, taiga, tundra and boreal forests of Europe, and Asia, and in the north of North America. Wolverines live in mountainous areas and dense forests, venturing into more open areas like farmland and plain in the search for food.

Wolverine habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Wolverines are well-adapted to winter and do not hibernate. They are mostly solitary, except when mating. Like the skunk, wolverines have a strong-smelling secretion called musk, used to warn others to keep out of their territory. They also spray the places they hide their food to discourage others from raiding them. Sometimes active during the day, they are nocturnal animals. Where there are prolonged times of darkness or light, wolverines may have three to four hours of activity and then three to four hours of sleep. They can quickly climb trees and are excellent swimmers.

Group name

Diet and Nutrition

Wolverines are omnivores and often eat large game like moose, caribou, and mountain goats; also smaller animals like rodents and ground squirrels, and sometimes birds' eggs and berries. Meat is their favorite and they work hard to get it. Within 24 hours they can travel 15 miles (24 kilometers) in search of food. They will eat carrion too.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
May-August
PREGNANCY DURATION
2 months
BABY CARRYING
2-3 kits
INDEPENDENT AGE
3 months
FEMALE NAME
angeline
MALE NAME
wolverine
BABY NAME
kit, whelp

Wolverines are polygamous. They mate from May to August. Females then build dens where they will have their young, often caves dug into the snow, sometimes as much as 15 feet deep. Gestation is nearly 2 months and 2 or 3 kits is the usual litter size. Females manage most of the rearing, though males from time to time visit to care for the young. Weaning occurs at 3 months and young start to forage themselves at 5 to 7 months. Wolverines are sexually mature around the age of 2.

Population

Population threats

The biggest threat facing wolverines is climate change. Less snow is produced in warmer weather, and, wolverines are dependent on it for food and reproduction. They can be hunted for their fur, prized due to its frost resistant properties. Their natural predators include wolves, mountain lions, brown bears, black bears, and golden eagles.

Population number

According to Wikipedia, the world's total wolverine population is not known. According to IUCN, the European population was recently estimated at approximately 2,260 individuals: 1,400 in European Russia, 150 in Finland, 326 (±45) individuals in Sweden and 269 (±32) individuals in Norway. Canada's' wolverine population is estimated at 15,000–19,000 individuals. The ICUN classifies the wolverine as "Least Concern", with a decreasing population trend.

Ecological niche

Wolverines are scavengers, eating the kill of bear and wolves. They have only a few natural predators. They prey on large and small animals. They rely on other large predators to provide food when the snow conditions prevent them from hunting large prey themselves. Wolverine urine discourages the presence and feeding of Snowshoe hares and Black-tailed deer.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Wolverines eat bones with their very strong teeth and jaws.
  • As a wolverine walks, its paw spreads out to almost twice its size, making it easier to walk on snow, like built-in snowshoes.
  • "Gulo gulo," the scientific name for the wolverine, comes from the Latin "gulo," which means "glutton."
  • Wolverines have special kind of upper molar, which is rotated 90 degrees, and allows it to tear apart flesh quickly.

References

1. Wolverine Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolverine
2. Wolverine on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/9561/0

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